Archive for fiduciary

Humble Confidence

By Kyle McDonald, chief executive officer

 

About five years ago, I figured out what sets our company apart.

It was November 2013 and I was reading a blog post by TV sportscaster Samantha Ponder in which she talked about growing up, and what has changed and what has stayed the same throughout her life. As a young woman, Samantha said, she didn’t feel particularly pretty and was kind of an outcast. Today, things are just the opposite. She is a telegenic, highly successful professional.

What has stayed the same throughout her life, she said, is the way she grounds herself in good times and bad by working to maintain an attitude of humble confidence – being sure of herself, her beliefs and her skills without letting it go to her head.

That idea of “humble confidence” struck a chord with me. It gave words to how I’d been thinking about Argent Financial Group for some time. It describes how we are with each other and with our clients. In fact, I think it’s the definition of a fiduciary, which has been fundamental to our company since we began.

The client is at the center of Argent’s organizational model.

Being a fiduciary means you are in the service business, and to serve someone you must place your needs behind the needs of the other – i.e., be humble – but you also must have confidence in your abilities, or your service will be of little value.

I think it also means that you are not “salesy.” Our responsibility as a fiduciary is not to sell a product, but to learn what is in the client’s best interest and do all we can to see that those interests are met. Because of this, our primary focus is on building relationships built on trust and respect, because you can’t really understand what a client needs until you have formed a relationship with him or her.

Humble confidence also means that the client is at the center of Argent Financial Group, and the closer you are to the client, the more vital you are to the health of our company. This means the higher up you are in our company’s internal structure, the more people you serve here. This is illustrated in the infographic of our “Client Relationship Model” that accompanies this blog, which shows how everyone in the company serves the relationship managers who directly serve our clients. This is an example of how humble confidence pervades our entire organization.

Because we foster a culture of humble confidence here, we naturally attract people who feel the way we do about serving others. In fact, our commitment to having a strong, supportive company culture is a result of our discovery several years ago that an attitude of humble confidence is what makes Argent the kind of company it is. And “discover” is the right word. The foundation of humble confidence goes back to the beginning of our company. It is a concept we have held true to all along; we just didn’t have a name for it. It’s kind of like an onion: As we peel back the layers, we find what was there all along.

It’s the same with culture. I now know that we had been thinking about culture since the beginning. That is, we have always known that we wanted to have a company where people were treated with care and respect, and we have always acted on those beliefs. As the company continues to grow, we learn more and more about ourselves, and the more we learn, the better our company becomes for both employees and clients.

Stay Humble; Be Confident.

Deidre Waltz Announced as New Managing Director

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (February 22, 2017) – Argent Financial Group and its subsidiary Argent Family Wealth Services (AFWS) are pleased to announce the addition of Deidre Waltz, CFP®, CIMA, CPWA as Managing Director.Deidre Pic 3

In her new role, Waltz will continue to develop AFWS’s services and collaborate with other Argent professionals to deliver these services to Argent’s high net worth client families. With over 30 years of experience in trust and investments, Deidre has overseen fiduciary relationships of wealthy multi-generational families and complex family office structures.

Waltz has distinguished herself by becoming a Certified Financial PlannerTM, a Certified Investment Management Analyst and a Certified Private Wealth Advisor. She is a graduate of Oklahoma City University and National Graduate Trust School focusing on trust and estate law and taxation.

“Deidre’s wealth of experience and industry knowledge make her a key addition to Argent Family Wealth Services.  Her hiring shows the firm’s commitment to being a leading services provider. We are very fortunate to add someone of Deidre’s caliber to fulfill this role,” said Mark Hartnett, AFWS President.

“Bringing family office solutions to our clients is a natural evolution for us and a perfect complement to our family wealth consulting practice. Deidre’s deep experience will help us develop a family office model that is pioneering and sustainable, and that meets the unique needs of our clients,” said Bond Payne, Argent’s Vice Chairman, Corporate Development.

“I am grateful Argent is able to continue to attract exceptionally talented individuals. Deidre’s highly specialized skill set and professional leadership enhance Argent’s ability to serve families with effective, long-term solutions.” added Kyle McDonald, CEO of Argent Financial Group.

 

Heritage Institutional-October Retirement Report

Each month, our Heritage Institutional team publishes the Retirement Report, which provides timely news and updates for plan sponsors and fiduciaries of defined contribution plans.  This month’s topics include:

  • “Conflict of Interest” or “Fiduciary” Rule: A Plan Sponsor’s Q & A – Part II
  • ERISA Update
  • Establishing Your Retirement Plan Committee Charter
  • Summary Plan Description Reminder

To read the full report, click here.

Heritage Institutional — September Retirement Report

Each month, our Heritage Institutional team publishes the Retirement Report, which provides timely news and updates for plan sponsors and fiduciaries of defined contribution plans.  This month’s topics include:

Q & A – Department of Labor defined “fiduciary” and helps you understand the regulations and how they pertain to you, your plan and participants.

Participant Behaviors — OneAmerica® providing insights in order to improve financial wellness.

Organizing Your Fiduciary File — Prepare your file in four key sections to keep everything organized.

Allowable Plan Expenses: Can the Plan Pay? — The payment of expenses by an ERISA plan (401K) defined benefit plan, money purchases plan, etc.) out of plan assets is subject to ERISA”s fiduciary rule.

To read the full report, click here.

 

Fiduciary Duty: Know your Trustee

by Kevin Karpe, Senior Vice President, Trust Officer

fi·du·ci·ar·y: “ A fiduciary is someone who has undertaken to act for and on behalf of another in a particular matter in circumstances which give rise to a relationship of trust and confidence.

 “Fiduciary”, “fiduciary duty” or “fiduciary standard” are terms we hear from time to time. We all recognize that a Board of Directors has a duty to its shareholders.  We know an executive has an obligation to act solely in the interests of his employer.  And we know elected officials have the sworn duty to prudently administer public resources.   In each example, the board member, the executive, and the elected official are all considered fiduciaries.   Common Law says fiduciaries are bound by equity to suppress their own interest in favor of a client, shareholder, employer or even taxpayers. At Heritage Trust Company, our fiduciary obligation results from an appointment as a trustee, an agent, a guardian or a personal representative.Kevin Karpe

All too often we hear in the news about how a member of a corporate board somehow places himself in a position of conflict by trading company stock based on information exclusive to the board. We read about investigations into why a politician has appointed a colleague to a post for which they are not the most qualified, or a stock broker receiving compensation for a transaction which is obviously contrary to the needs of his client. It is apparent many of those occupying fiduciary positions do not fully understand their obligation, an obligation to act with total loyalty at all times for the sole benefit and interest of another.

It’s difficult to know if our culture has experienced a measurable change in the application of fiduciary standards over time, but I’ve heard many in the investment industry attempt to explain the various degrees of duty and suggest if a conflict exists, it is simply remedied by a disclosure buried in the fine print of an account agreement.   It’s truly a shame an organization may be inclined to take the path of least resistance in the case of disclosure rather than recognize an opportunity to build loyalty with a client. Avoiding breaches of fiduciary duty or conflicts of interest might sound simple.   Breaches or conflicts are most typical in situations where a broker or agent is compensated in manner that is an incentive for him to recommend an investment or transaction that obviously ignores the best interest of the client. A variable annuity sold to a ninety year old woman is a good example of a fiduciary breach in the investment industry.

It’s refreshing to know that consumers are hearing more about fiduciary duty and as a result, the investment industry is now focused on formalizing internal standards. I find it interesting that their best examples are the policies of the old fashioned trust companies.

At Heritage Trust, we believe our experience counts. Our approach to our duty reveals solid relationships with our clients, their kids and grand kids will always contribute to successfully transitioning a legacy.

 Originally published by Heritage Trust in 2011.

Heritage Trust Investment Process Starts with the Client

John McCollum, CFA, led the team that developed the investment process Heritage John McCollumTrust uses today. In the interview with John below, who now serves as Senior Vice President-Investments with Argent Financial Group, we find out the nuts and bolts behind the Heritage Trust process and how our clients benefit from it.

Why is it necessary to have an investment process?
All investment firms have philosophies that guide their approach to managing portfolios. These core beliefs underpin our entire investment process. The process is i05n place to guide the management of portfolios during normal times but importantly, can also serve to protect portfolios from the human emotions that come with times of euphoria and stress. The process serves as a constitution of sorts.

How was the process developed?
The investment process at Heritage Trust was developed over years of study, observation, and reflection and resulted in an approach to managing investment portfolios that struck the proper balance between the art and science of investing. We set out to develop an approach to portfolio construction that took the best parts of Modern Portfolio Theory, the well accepted idea that diversification reduces risk, and blended it with a system of in-house asset class and security valuation, a focus on the minimization of fees and taxes, a recognition that it is difficult to outperform in many asset classes and finally the use of a dedicated portfolio manager to interpret the individual risk and return needs for each account. The result is customized portfolios that mitigate risk while enhancing return.

What are the strengths of the process that continue to make it work for Heritage Trust today?
Like the Constitution, the policies that underlie the Heritage Trust investment process should stand the test of time. Market conditions change. Valuations change. Expectations for growth, inflation, and productivity change. One’s overall approach to investment management must be adaptable to changing market conditions. The approach remains the same, even if the outcomes or the people involved in the process change. I think it is that aspect of the Heritage Trust approach that makes it so valuable to Heritage clients. It does not rely on the opinions or forecasts of one person. It has been embedded in the organizational approach to managing investments.

How do Heritage Trust clients benefit from the process?
The values of Heritage Trust are rooted in our fiduciary duty to always act in the best interest of clients, and our investment process was developed around that. We understood that excessive, and in many cases unnecessary, fees harmed investor’s long-term returns. We also understood that unnecessary trading and frequent portfolio adjustments mostly detracts from long term results. As a result, the established investment process provides a customized portfolio based on the individual’s needs, time horizon and risk tolerance while minimizing fees for the best possible net return.

John, you’ve been involved with Heritage Trust since 2000 and you’re now a leader in our sister company Argent Financial. What is one aspect of Heritage Trust that has kept you involved?
I most appreciate the people and the way clients are valued at Heritage Trust. The team at Heritage genuinely puts client interests first. I think the Heritage Trust investment process is driven by the motivation to do the right thing for clients’ long-term investment performance even if it means not doing the popular thing.

Learn more about John’s new role with Argent Financial Group here.